I recently came across a cook book featuring classic American cuisine. Flicking through the book, I came across jambalaya, and in an instant, one momentous scene in Seinfeld history jumped from my memory. So of course, I had to make it.
Jambalaya is a dish from Louisiana, although with significant Spanish and French origins. It’s similar to paella, where meats and vegetables are mixed with rice. The version I made was from the book My New Orleans by John Besh, and included many ingredients guaranteed to induce a heart attack – smokey bacon, chorizo, sausage meat; you should probably plan a doctors visit while you’re cooking.
The jambalaya that I made was luxurious, decadent and definitely guilty. It was comfort in a bowl. But while delicious on Day 1, the quality of jambalaya diminished quickly and after foolishly making about 6 L of the stuff, I was left with a rather unfortunately sized mountain of stodgy, congealed rice.
Of course, I’m not one to throw-out food so I decided to repurpose it into ARANCINI.
I’m a huge fan of arancini. I love the crunchy shell, the soft, gooey middle and, if lucky, the cheesy centre. Arancini is usually made with leftover risotto but why not jambalaya? Why not substitute one starch-laden pile for another?
So off I went. I rolled my leftover jambalaya into golf-ball sized morsels, before coating with layers of plain flour, egg and panko crumb. I heated oil in a wok and fried them until they turned golden brown. As I scooped them out of the oil, I had a moment of enlightenment, I had just given birth to Jambacini!
Crunchy, gooey, smokey, meaty, these jambacini were like a BBQ in a bite. But unlike most arancini that I make, eating jambacini came with many surprises. As jambalaya has a mixture of meats, every bite of jambacini was different. Sometimes I got chorizo, sometimes I got chicken. Bit of sausage meat in one, ooh a prawn in another. Eating these jambacini was like a happy game of Russian Roulette.
This also got me thinking, what else could I turn into arancini? Paella-cini? Congee-cini? My mind is turning…
I leave you now with my very own jambacini. I served mine on wilted beetroot leaves (because I had them in the fridge and didn’t want to throw them out #WarOnWaste) and a ricotta dip. The ricotta was also leftover in the fridge, but also helps to balance the fattiness of the jambacini. Enjoy!